They came, saw and conquered. The Fullerton College Theatre department wrapped up their production of Jane Eyre mid-October with tremendous applause from the audience and positvie reviews from peers and critics alike. Although the set has been put away and stage curtains drawn, there’s still one story left to be told. Here’s a look at what you didn’t see on stage.
Before any machine can start running, it must have working parts. The casting process is vital to any production, as it sets the foundation on which everything else will be built.
Director Arlyn McDonald usually has a pretty clear view of her desired actors for her productions but for this production she said she came in with an empty slate and an open mind.
“There’s a saying that a director has done 60 percent of his work if he casts someone who looks like the role,” McDonald said with a chuckle. “So we do look for specific types for certain roles, but being an actor myself, I know how important it is for a stage actor to be versatile. I don’t try to pigeonhole someone into a particular type. I left my mind open and tried to see everything each person had to offer and it was really quite fun.”
The same can be said of our two leading actresses Taylor Burke and Kourtney Fisher.
Burke, who played young Jane Eyre, auditioned for the play on a last minute whim and wasn’t even expecting to get the part.
“It was actually my first audition ever,” Burke said. “I wasn’t planning to try out but my friend wanted to audition, so I just thought ‘why not?'”
Fisher, who played older Jane Eyre, auditioned for her role on the suggestion of the director.
“I ran into Arlyn on campus and she told me, ‘you need to audition for for this play!'” Fisher said. “I prepared with a friend who had read the book then I auditioned and I didn’t think I would get it. It’s my first semester here, so I did not expect this at all.”
With both lead actors secured, the ball began rolling.
Jane Eyre is set in the Victorian Era, with much of the play taking place in Thornfield Mansion, a gloomy and secluded setting.
To complete this scene, Set Designer Kevin Clowes drew inspiration from the play’s dual love and coming of age story.
“I tried to meld the two and come up with a non-literal scenic atmosphere that can be used for interior and exterior scenes,” Clowes said.
The set itself was put together by students building, painting and loading. The process took a total of six weeks.
One of the most striking thing about this Jane Eyre production was the unique set of costumes for the show.
The men’s and women’s dressing rooms were filled to the brim with multitudes of elaborate dresses, corsets, hats, tuxedos and many more. There was everything from simple era-inspired outfits to gaudy, expensive-looking, brightly-colored gowns.
Upon entering the costume shop tucked away on the second floor of the 1300 building, one would find students hard at work sewing, mending and piecing together costumes, under the careful guidance of their adviser.
In charge of costume designing was Mela Hoyt-Heydon, a union costume designer who has been working in the entertainment industry for 30 years and is the head of the costuming program at Fullerton College.
PREPPING FOR THE ROLE
Stepping out of your own personality and immersing into another character is no easy feat. Our two lead actresses shared some of their techniques for getting into character.
“Making new discoveries is really important because there’s basic information you need to know about a character and things you put into the character yourself,” Fisher said. “I found a lot of small secrets about Jane that I shared with her. It’s like becoming friends with the character.”
Burke finds her inspiration in putting herself in her character’s shoes.
“It’s a lot of internal work,” she said. “You have to find pieces of the character that relate to yourself so it’s easier to get into your role. You figure out their personality inside of the script and you put yourself in there. It’s like a blend of two different people within the same body.”
Jane Eyre concluded its showing at the Campus Theatre Saturday Oct. 18, but the season is far from over.
The Theatre department will present “The Compleat Female Stage Beauty,” directed by Chuck Ketter, on Dec. 4. The play will run through Sunday, Dec. 7, in the Bronwyn Dodson Theatre. Tickets are $15, with pre-sale at $12.
Those seeking more information can visit the official Theatre Arts Department website at theatre.fullcoll.edu.